An Urban Perspective on the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act

Michael Halicki, Executive Director for Park Pride

Michael Halicki, Executive Director for Park Pride

Michael Halicki, Executive Director for Park Pride

Last week, my friend and colleague Thomas Farmer of The Nature Conservancy talked about an effort to create a dedicated source of funding for land conservation, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act. Park Pride is proud to be a part of a coalition of like-minded organizations advocating for this proposal at the General Assembly as we believe it will have a positive impact both environmentally and economically through our state.     

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would dedicate a portion of the existing tax on outdoor recreation equipment to land conservation projects including urban parks and greenspace. We have seen first-hand the incredible return on investment this could have on our community and our economy. Continue reading

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Advocating for Land Conservation – For Our Economy and the Environment

Thomas Farmer (c) Farmer family

Thomas Farmer (c) Farmer family

By Thomas Farmer, Director of Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia

From the mountains to the coast, in city parks and rural fields and pastures, land plays a critical role in Georgia’s economy and quality of life. As the foundation of major industries like tourism, agriculture and forestry, there is no question that land is one of Georgia’s most valuable assets, but it is also a finite resource that must be used wisely. Continue reading

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Our Ten Year Resolution

Trees Atlanta Staff 2016 by Tim Dagraca

Trees Atlanta Staff 2016 by Tim Dagraca

By The Staff of Trees Atlanta

As 2016 comes to a close, Trees Atlanta’s staff is busy planning for the next several years. We yearn to do more and be more effective in all that we do: creating new and improved programming, planting more trees, educating more people, and restoring more woodlands. As we look to the future, we are taking the advice a speaker recently gave to individuals and organizations alike, focusing not only on yearly accomplishments, but what we have built over the last decade. Continue reading

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Affordable Housing – The Challenge and the Opportunity

Deputy Executive Director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, David A. Jackson

Deputy Executive Director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, David A. Jackson

By David A. Jackson, Deputy Executive Director, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

As the new deputy executive director for the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, I am excited to join the team whose mission is to Enable the Atlanta BeltLine project and to Engage and Empower the people who live, work and play around it. A fundamental tenet of the Partnership’s Empower strategy is to work with myriad stakeholders – government, philanthropy, business, non-profit, community, and institutional partners – to help strengthen Atlanta BeltLine communities, particularly in the areas of health, housing and economic opportunity. Continue reading

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The Symbols of Our City

Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride

“our greatest parks often become the very symbols of their cities,
the touchstones of memory and experience for residents and tourists alike.”

 Peter Harnik, the recently retired Director of the Center for City Park Excellence for
The Trust for Public Land Continue reading

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Fighting Fire with Fire

By Erick Brown

The view from The Nature Conservancy’s office on the 22nd floor of the Equitable Building in Downtown Atlanta is pretty spectacular. Most days, we can see Kennesaw Mountain off in the distance. But over the past few weeks, that view has often been obscured, the slope of that Civil War battle site hidden behind a dull cover of smoke. Continue reading

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How You Can Continue to Help Deliver the Atlanta BeltLine Vision

Rob headshot professional - 2014.07.28By Rob Brawner, Executive Director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

The Atlanta BeltLine is both simple and remarkably complex. Its simplicity is felt when we connect with fellow Atlantans walking, biking, running and otherwise enjoying the parts of the Atlanta BeltLine that have been built so far. Its complexity becomes apparent when one considers the level of planning and coordination required for a $4.8 billion project being implemented over 25 years.

An aspect of that complexity is evident when discussing the importance of financial support from individuals in realizing such a large vision. Particularly after the recent overwhelming support for the TSPLOST and MARTA sales taxes, I have frequently heard the question: Why are private contributions from individuals needed?  There are three reasons:

1 – The Atlanta BeltLine is not fully funded.  The $4.8 billion cost to fully implement the community’s vision for the Atlanta BeltLine does not come from a single source. A simplified breakdown of funding based on the 2013 Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) contemplates the Tax Allocation District (TAD) covering about a third of the cost, federal sources (for which we must compete) providing roughly another third, and the remaining third coming from local public and philanthropic sources as well as about $890 million of funding that was unidentified when the SIP was adopted. (Some of this previously unidentified funding was secured via the recently approved sales taxes and the $18 million TIGER V grant for the Westside Trail.)

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership is the organization responsible for securing contributions from foundations and corporations to help fund the Atlanta BeltLine’s completion. To date, we have raised well over $50 million that has been used to help create Historic Fourth Ward Park, the Westside Trail, the Eastside Trail, the West End Trail, Stanton Park, the Atlanta BeltLine Urban Farm, and more.  The SIP projects $275 million of private and philanthropic funding to be raised by 2030 to help leverage city, state, and federal funds that will be secured by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., the quasi-governmental entity responsible for implementing the Atlanta BeltLine. We rely on individual contributions to provide the resources we need to secure large private and philanthropic donations for the Atlanta BeltLine.  Individual contributions also signal to foundations and public agencies that the Atlanta BeltLine is embraced by the community.

2 – Strong community and civic support sustains the Atlanta BeltLine. Continued broad-based support ensures the Atlanta BeltLine remains a civic priority. This support was catalyzed in the early 2000s through the grass-roots organizing of Friends of the BeltLine. In 2005, Friends of the BeltLine became the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and – under the leadership of Ray Weeks – we engaged private sector partners to help make the vision a reality in collaboration with the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and myriad other organizations like PATH and the Trust for Public Land.

Far from taking grass-roots support for granted, over the past decade, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership has developed a portfolio of programs that engage the public to cultivate their understanding of, connection to, and support for the Atlanta BeltLine. Individual contributions help educate and inform residents through Atlanta BeltLine tours and communications, facilitate countless hours of resident engagement through volunteer opportunities like Adopt-the-Atlanta-BeltLine, improve the quality of public health through free fitness classes and the Run.Walk.Go! Race Series, and create vibrant public spaces through funding of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.

3 – It takes all of us to make the Atlanta BeltLine for everyone.  From its inception, the Atlanta BeltLine was intended to improve quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of all income levels, including those living in Atlanta BeltLine communities that had experienced decades of disinvestment.  Delivering on this promise requires a continued, concerted effort from public, private, non-profit, philanthropic and community organizations as well as individual residents. The systemic and market forces working against equitable development are too great for any single organization to address alone.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership plays an important role in delivering on the Atlanta BeltLine’s promise. As an apolitical organization focused on the Atlanta BeltLine and the communities around it, we have worked extensively with partners to develop programs that empower residents in the areas of health, housing, and economic opportunity. Individual contributions support our efforts to help existing residents stay in their homes through free homeowner education workshops; nurture innovative approaches to health-related programming through partnerships like the Westside Trail Community Health Grant Program; advocate for policies and funding that support affordable housing and equitable development; and provide access to workforce development programs that help residents remain productive parts of their Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods.

Implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine continues to move forward through the efforts of the City of Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and other partners, but we cannot take for granted that the rest of the Atlanta BeltLine will simply happen. With your support, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership will continue to enable the Atlanta BeltLine project by raising funds from the private sector and philanthropic community, engage the public through programming and outreach, and empower the residents of the 45 Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods through targeted partnerships in the areas of health, housing and economic opportunity. We would be grateful to have you become a member and join us in this mission.

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Think Globally, Act Locally

By Joe Thomas, Donor Relations Coordinator, Trees Atlanta

If you walk through Deepdene Park off of Ponce de Leon Avenue, you will find a white oak that has stood since before the Revolutionary War. It is easy to miss, partially hidden in its place on the side of the forested trail. But this tree is special. It has withstood storms, war, and development. It has seen neighbors and passersby come and go. It has watched the area around it change, fellow trees cut down, trails and roads built, homes erected and demolished. Through all of that, it has reached upward, called by something higher. Continue reading

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Parks & The Pursuit of Happiness

by Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director

flower“I’ve always felt that happiness is the point of life. We Americans are fortunate to have the right to the “pursuit of happiness” enshrined in our Constitution, and nowhere is that right more accessible to us than in our National Park System where we experience it mentally, physically and emotionally.” Continue reading

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Together Through the Storm

By Deron Davis, Executive Director at The Nature Conservancy in Georgia

When Hurricane Matthew hit the Georgia coast a month ago, Nature Conservancy staff based in the area hunkered down inland with friends from other organizations at Moody Forest, a 4,000-acre natural area near Baxley that we co-own and manage with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Moody sits on the Altamaha River, which traverses vast forests of pines, cabbage palms and live oaks draped with laced Spanish moss before giving way to expansive salt marshes as it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading

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